Play, Active Recreation & Sport

We work for, and with, the people and places of our whānau, neighbourhoods, and communities; to strengthen our communities and to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi; to create supported and empowered people and places. 

We do this by: Leading and advocating for and with; Empowering and enabling; Supporting and partnering.


A child’s earliest physical experiences are through play which serves as the platform for them to cultivate and hone life skills.

Play offers children the chance to engage in enjoyable and meaningful experiences, where they find fun, happiness, and laughter.

Sport Canterbury places a strong emphasis on nurturing a passion for physical activity from a young age, recognising that one of our foundational philsophies is to ensure equitable access to diverse and enriching play experiences within local settings.

Play serves as a safe space for young individuals to encounter risk and challenges, offering them valuable opportunities to learn and grow.

United Nation 31 of The Convention on the Rights of the Child

1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

Click for more information on Article 31. 

Active Recreation

Active recreation is non-competitive physical activity undertaken for lifestyle, wellbeing, health, and enjoyment.

This includes activities like walking, swimming, cycling, skating, fishing, equipment-based exercise, and yoga which can occur independently or with the involvement of a provider group or organisation. Sport Canterbury provides resources, funding, and support to help communities access equitable active recreation opportunities that meet the diverse needs of people in Waitaha Canterbury and Te Tai Poutini West Coast.

Sport Canterbury is committed to nurturing the wellbeing of rangatahi through improving participation and engagement in active recreation. To achieve this, Mana Taiohi has been adopted as a guiding framework for how we engage, connect, and whakamana young people across our regions.

Mana Taiohi

Sport Canterbury is committed to Mana Taiohi; a principle based framework that informs the way people who work with young people work in Aotearoa. The principles acknowledge and affirm the mana that young people have and recognise how their mana can be enhanced. Mana Taiohi is informed by young people and people who work with young people, a review of Aotearoa-based literature on positive youth development, and a Te Ao Māori worldview. 


Most New Zealanders are involved in sport in various capacities, whether as participants, spectators, volunteers, coaches, or administrators, all of whom can enjoy the numerous advantages it offers.

A key focus of the work Sport Canterbury does is to ensure that young people have the opportunity to develop a lifelong love of sport from childhood across the lifespan.


Sport Canterbury recognises the vital role that coaches play within the sports system. We collaborate with regional sports organisations to support coaching frameworks and systems, ensuring the continual recruitment, development, and retention of high-quality coaches across all levels.

Balance Is Better

Our goal is to instill a lifelong love for sports and recreation, fostering sustained participation throughout one's life. Research indicates a decline in teenage sports participation due to several factors, including the professionalism of sport at all levels from an increasingly younger age. Consequently, Sport Canterbury supports the 'Balance Is Better' initiative and collaborates with sports organisations across different codes to implement it throughout their disciplines and cultures.

Sector Capability

To support organisational capability and enhance sustainability, our efforts encompass governance development, leadership mentoring, diversity and inclusion, training, and the coordination of financial workshops for our stakeholders.

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